Jun 18

ERC victor Al-Attiyah is Golden with record Cyprus win

FIA European Rally Championship 2017: Round 4 of 8

ERC victor Al-Attiyah is Golden with record Cyprus winNasser Al-Attiyah has become the fourth different driver to prove he’s got talent of the event-winning variety by winning round four of the FIA European Rally Championship with top spot in Cyprus today.

Cyprus Rally: Leg two report, 18 June

*Fifth triumph puts Al-Attiyah ahead of Sébastien Loeb on all-time list of winners
*Golden Stage glory – and share of 24,000 euros prize fund – completes dream weekend
*Demosthenous and Özdemir claim ERC2 and ERC3 victories
*Kajetanowicz closes on title leader Magalhães ahead of home event in Poland

In doing so, Qatar’s famous motorsport all-rounder is now the most successful driver in the history of the Cyprus Rally with five wins compared to the four notched up by multiple world champion Sébastien Loeb.

Al-Attiyah, who follows Bruno Magalhães, Alexey Lukyanuk and Kajetan Kajetanowicz by winning in this year’s ERC, snatched the lead from Nikolay Gryazin on stage three and capitalised on his experience of the demanding Cypriot stages – held in punishing ambient temperatures exceeding 30 degrees centigrade – to take a comfortable victory ahead of local drivers Simos Galatariotis and Panikos Polykarpou, who were not eligible for ERC points.

“There really is no secret to our success, we tried to do our best,” said the Autotek Motorsport Ford Fiesta R5 driver, who was co-driven by Frenchman Matthieu Baumel and also scored maximum FIA Middle East points. “We had good luck and I feel sorry for the other drivers because we had a really big fight altogether. But maybe the experience we get from here and everywhere we compete helps us and I am happy to win five times the Cyprus Rally. Thank you to all the support from my country, our government and our team who made this possible.”

Al-Attiyah underlined his dominance with a dramatic victory on the Love Cyprus Golden Stage, beating Kajetanowicz by 0.3s to win 10,000 euros in prize money.

Alexandros Tsouloftas was in a strong second place after nine stages when he suffered a double puncture on the 23.43-kilometre Cytanet Avdelero run this morning, losing more than 10 minutes and any hopes of a podium finish. “There was a big rock in the road and we got two punctures,” the young Cypriot driver explained afterwards. “It was a sharp stone in the line, I couldn’t avoid it, it could have cost us our lives.” Tsouloftas was handed the Colin McRae ERC Flat Out Trophy for his efforts in P9 overall and was also the top local on the Love Cyprus Golden Stage to pick up a cheque for 7,000 euros.

With Tsouloftas substantially delayed, Galatariotis and Polykarpou moved into the top three overall with Christos Demosthenous taking fourth and ERC regular Albert von Thurn und Taxis a fine fifth on his Cyprus Rally debut in only his first full season of rallying.

Kajetan Kajetanowicz restarted on Sunday following his stage-six crash on leg one to claim seven bonus points for winning today’s second leg. The LOTOS Rally Team driver will head to his home event in Poland 14 points behind Magalhães in the battle to become European champion. Magalhães, who crashed at the same right-hand turn as Kajetanowicz and Murat Bostanci, was unable to re-join the action on day two due to the damage inflicted when he rolled his SEAJETS ŠKODA Fabia Fabia off the road and onto Bostanci’s Castrol Ford Team Turkey Ford Fiesta R5, which was also beyond immediate repair.

Having been thwarted by mechanical issues on day one, Gryazin returned on Sunday and overcame brake and power issues to add to his opening-stage win for Sports Racing Technologies with two further stage bests. Antonín Tlusťák was also back competing on Sunday after his broken steering-enforced retirement on Saturday. The Czech was classified P23, six places behind Charalambos Timotheou, the experienced Cypriot competitor who was driving a Fabia R5 in competition for the first time for Motorsport Italia. Rauf Denktaş battled back from rolling on the final morning to finish P10 overall on his ERC debut.

ERC2: Demosthenous wins at home as Melegari takes title lead
While Christos Demosthenous celebrated top-scoring in ERC2, Zelindo Melegari is the new leader of the category after four rounds. The Italian was the third eligible driver home, one place behind Petros Panteli Sergei Remennik was on course to finish fourth despite myriad issues but dropped out in the closing stages stuck in third gear. Simos Galatariotis and Panikos Polykarpou ultimately set the pace among the production class drivers but having not applied for ERC priority status they were not eligible for points.

ERC3: Özdemir takes victory following controlled drive
Ümitcan Özdemir claimed his maiden ERC3 success for Castrol Ford Team Turkey with a controlled drive ahead of fellow Fiesta R2 drivers Deniz Fahri and İsmet Toktaş. Buǧra Banaz fought back from his stage-three off to finish fourth in class and score some crucial championship points. Russian Peugeot driver Artur Muradian, a stage winner on Sunday, and Cypriot veteran Christos Mannouris were both unable to go the distance. Zacharias Manoli was the fastest two-wheel-drive contender on the Love Cyprus Golden Stage and received 7,000 euros in prize money.

PROVISIONAL TOP 10 POSITIONS (after 14 stages, 219.74 kilometres)
1 Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Matthieu Baumel (FRA) Ford Fiesta R5 02h31m44.3s
2 Simos Galatariotis (CYP)/Antonis Ioannou (CYP) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X +6m12.0s
3 Panikos Polykarpou (CYP)/Gerald Winter (CYP) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX +6m19.5s
4 Christos Demosthenous (CYP)/Pambos Laos (CYP) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX +7m40.4s
5 Albert von Thurn und Taxis (DEU)/Bjorn Degandt (BEL) ŠKODA Fabia R5 +8m22.3s
6 Petros Panteli (CYP)/Kyprianos Christodoulou (CYP) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX +9m36.5s
7 Savvas Savva (CYP)/Andreas Papandreou (CYP) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX +9m55.1s
8 Stavros Antoniou (CYP)/Demetris Pieri (CYP) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX +10m32.1s
9 Alexandros Tsoulftas (CYP)/Stelios Elia (CYP) Citroën DS3 R5 +12m03.2s
10 Rauf Denktaş (TUR)/Dervis Bora Savarona (TUR) Ford Fiesta R5 +12m37.4s

FIA ERC2: Christos Demosthenous (CYP)/Pambos Laos (CYP) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX
FIA ERC3: Ümitcan Özdemir (TUR)/Butuhan Memişyazici (TUR) Ford Fiesta R2T
Colin McRae ERC Flat Out Trophy: Alexandros Tsoulftas (CYP)

Nikolay Gryazin; SS3-14: Nasser Al-Attiyah

Day one (Saturday 17 June, 117.40 kilometres):
Kalo Chorio 1 (21.66kms):

Nikolay Gryazin Christos Demosthenous Buǧra Banaz

SS2: Giorgos Kyprianou Lefkara 1 (18.42kms):

Stage cancelled due to car 16 (Deniz Denner/Omer Topcu) blocking the road

SS3: Cytanet Analiontas 1 (14.41kms):

Nasser Al-Attiyah Sergey Remennik Ümitcan Özdemir

SS4: CNP Asfalistiki Super Special Stage 1 (4.15kms):

Nasser Al-Attiyah Sergey Remennik Ümitcan Özdemir

SS5: Kalo Chorio 2 (21.66kms):

Nasser Al-Attiyah Christos Demosthenous Ümitcan Özdemir

SS6: Giorgos Kyprianou Lefkara 2 (18.42kms):

Nasser Al-Attiyah Christos Demosthenous Buǧra Banaz

SS7: Cytanet Analiontas 2 (14.41kms):

Panikos Polykarpou Christos Demosthenous Buǧra Banaz

SS8: CNP Asfalistiki Super Special Stage 2 (4.15kms):

Nasser Al-Attiyah Christos Demosthenous Buǧra Banaz

Day two (Sunday 18 June, 102.34 kilometres):

SS9: Psaltis Eneos Yeri 1 (22.00kms):

Kajetan Kajetanowicz Petros Panteli Artur Muradian

SS10: Cytanet Avdelero 1 (23.43kms):

Kajetan Kajetanowicz Petros Panteli Ümitcan Özdemir

SS11: Psaltis Eneos Yeri 2 (22.00kms):

Nikolay Gryazin Christos Demosthenous İsmet Toktaş

SS12: Cytanet Avdelero 1 (23.43kms):

Nikolay Gryazin Christos Demosthenous İsmet Toktaş

SS13: Love Cyprus Golden Stage 1 (5.31kms):

Nasser Al-Attiyah Petros Panteli Buǧra Banaz

SS14: Love Cyprus Golden Stage 2 (6.17kms):

Kajetan Kajetanowicz Petros Panteli İsmet Toktaş

ERC wins in 2017:
Al-Attiyah, Kajetanowicz, Lukyanuk and Magalhães 1
ERC stage wins in 2017: Kajetanowicz and Lukyanuk 16; Al-Attiyah 9; Gryazin 5; Magalhães 4; Griebel, Moura and Polykarpou 1

Go to FIAERC.com for stage times, provisional results and standings following round four of eight.


RALLY RZESZOW, 3-5 August 2017:
Rally Rzeszow’s history might date back to 1970 but its 25th edition in 2016 was perhaps its most significant moment yet when the asphalt event made its first ERC appearance. A regular on the Polish and Slovakian national championship calendars, Rally Rzeszow takes place on narrow, winding sealed-surface roads in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains in southeast Poland with steep climbs and tricky descents commonplace. Two stages through the city of Rzeszow, which is close to the Ukranian and Slovakian borders, form part of the itinerary, while reigning ERC champion Kajetan Kajetanowicz was an event regular in the past.


ERC Cyprus Rally post-event press conference

FIA European Rally Championship 2017: Round 4 of 8
Cyprus Rally, 16-18 June

Nasser Al-Attiyah/Matthieu Baumel, first position
Simos Galatariotis/Antonis Ioannou, second position
Panikos Polykarpou/Gerald Winter, third position

On a rally where everything happened you just kept your head down and came to the finish fastest. What was your secret?

First I would like to say thanks to every driver. There is no secret for this rally. Okay, we try to do our best and we had good luck. I feel really sorry for the other drivers because we had really big fight altogether. But like what I say maybe the experience what we get from here or from everywhere where we compete it’s helped us. I am quite happy to win fifth time Cyprus Rally and eight times Troodos Rally, which is how many times?

Let’s just say it’s quite a lot, almost as many times as you have won the Middle East championship…

In Middle East I have won 12 times the championship.

So 13 wins in Cyprus?

Yes, I am quite happy and thank you for all the support from my country, from our government in Qatar who support us all this weekend and for making everything happen for us. It was fantastic, thank you to everybody.

And from your perspective Matthieu, what was the event like for you?

It was from the beginning we said we only came for the victory and we also need the points for the Middle East championship. It was a very hard challenge on the first day because all the competitors were fighting very, very hard to take the lead. But after the first loop on the morning we get a small advantage and we said we would continue at this pace and see what happens in the afternoon. In the afternoon it was completely disaster or all our competitors. We finished the first day with a huge gap to the second and third place so this morning was a little strange because you spend your time avoiding the difficulties and the stones, you only think puncture or something happens. But, okay, everything was going well and we arrived at the Golden Stage. The plan was not to push, to secure the win but at the start Nasser ask me ‘what do you think, do we go?’ I said just go and enjoy and we will see. If we have a good time in the first one we will try to win and it’s what we did.

When you had the puncture yesterday was there any point when you thought it would cost you lots of time?

In that point we were already leading by more than three minutes and we drove with the puncture for 10 kilometres and we knew the maximum loss of minutes would still be good for the lead so we were not really worried.

What was the reaction inside the car when you realised three of you main rivals had gone out?

We were pushing and it’s the game, it’s like that. It’s rally, when someth9ing happens you need to manage. In that game Nasser and I are really good.

When did you realise this was happening and that second place would be possible?

I think it was from the first stage this morning actually. Our pace was what it needed to be and then we had to push all day long to stay there actually.

Did you at any stage face any trouble that could be bad for the car because nearly everyone had problems?

Not really today, a couple of weird moments but nothing serious. The problems we had were yesterday but not with the car, we had a flat tyre and one car blocked the road but other than that today ran smoothly.

What does this mean to be the first Cypriot crew and second overall on such a tough rally, one of the toughest we’ve had in the last decade?

Always just to finish such a rally is a difficult thing to do, all the drivers who competed can confirm that. Of course it means a lot to us. We’ve been working hard and our team to get the car ready over many hours and I would like to thank them and my family who put up with the long hours. But I couldn’t be happier.

When did you realise that the podium was on?

Never to be honest! Okay we planned as a new team this year to finish the rally. But we had some very good times on the first day with zero troubles. We worked very clever in the stages with the tough places so we save the car and slowly we went up in the standings so I couldn’t be happier.

So what does it mean to be on the podium after this amazing rally against so many big names?

For a new team I couldn’t be happier for us. From the beginning we said we’d finish the rally and at the end we proved we were also fast to be on the podium. It’s amazing for us.